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Learn more about East London’s infamous and famous people. From Jack The Ripper to Alf Garnett.

History of The Stratford Martyrs

If you visit the churchyard of the Church of St John the Evangelist in Stratford, you can see a memorial to the Stratford Martyrs. According to some, this marks the approximate location where 13 people were burned at the stake by Queen Mary I because of their religious beliefs.

The Stratford Martyrs – The Marian Persecutions

By the time Mary inherited the throne from her brother,

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Posted in East End People


Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man.

Although not born in the East End, Joseph Merrick spent much of his life in the area and died in the Royal London Hospital on Whitechapel Road. Known for much of his life, and in popular culture ever since, as the “Elephant Man”, Merrick suffered from an unknown condition that left him severely deformed.

Famous East End Characters the “Elephant Man”

Exhibited as a freak for much of his adult life,

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Posted in East End People


Ikey Solomon, Famous East London Characters

The East End of London has had its fair share of characters over the years. Some are famous in good ways; others are more infamous. Ikey Solomon, a well-known figure in the Houndsditch area in Victorian times, certainly qualifies on the infamous scale.

Infamous Ikey Solomon

Some people even think that Dickens modelled the character of Fagin in Oliver Twist on this well-known criminal.

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Posted in East End People


Clement Attlee Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951

Clement Attlee was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1945 to 1951. Although born in Putney, Attlee had a lot of connections with the East End, particularly in Limehouse and Stepney. He lived in the area from the early part of the century until 1922.

Clement Attlee’s Life in the East End of London

He began his political career in these areas,

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Posted in East End People


Isambard Kingdom Brunel and East London

The famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel has a couple of close connections with the East End of London. He worked on the world’s first underwater tunnel, the Thames Tunnel, with his father Marc Isambard Brunel.


This tunnel crossed under the Thames from Wapping to Rotherhithe. In his later career, he also built and launched one of the world’s greatest ships,

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Posted in East End People


Bryant and May Strike Bow East London

During the 19th century the match manufacturer, Bryant and May, was one of the main employers in Bow in the East End of London. Although playing with matches is, as we all know, dangerous; at that time just making matches could be deadly. Most of the people working in the factory were women, known as match girls.

The Bryant and May Match Girls Strike

During its most busy period,

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Posted in East End People


The London Burkers, Bodysnatching

Shoreditch may be most well known for its mention in the Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme, but the area has also had some grisly moments over the years, like most of the East End of London. In the 1830s, it gained some infamy as the home of the London Burkers, a group of body snatchers who tried to make a less than honest living by creating corpses to sell.

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Posted in East End People


Daniel Mendoza and Bethnal Green

One of the most famous residents of Bethnal Green was the boxer, Daniel Mendoza, who was also known as “Mendoza the Jew”. Mendoza was born in Aldgate but settled in Bethnal Green, where he lived for over thirty years, boxed at the height of his fame and where he raised his family.


He also helped put the area on the map as a centre of boxing excellence.

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Posted in East End People


William Booth Founder of The Salvation Army

William Booth is best known as the founder of the Salvation Army. Although he wasn’t born in London, he did many good works in the East End, helping improve the living conditions of many people living in Whitechapel.

William Booth, the Salvation Army and Whitechapel

He also founded the Salvation Army on Whitechapel Road.

Booth was born in Nottingham in 1829.

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Posted in East End People


Sylvia Pankhurst and The Suffragette Movement

Although she was born in Manchester, Sylvia Pankhurst had strong connections to the East End of London, particularly in Bow. A leading member of the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s, she, her mother Emmeline and her sister Christabel, fought tirelessly for women’s rights and equality.


Sylvia’s work in Bow and the East End in general, however, did more than simply help women;

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Posted in East End People


Recent Comments

  • Martin on The History of Beckton Gas WorksHi my name is Martin taylor and I live in the old gas work houses. I have been interested in the gas works if u could send picture's of Windsor
  • peter lobban on History of The East London Cockneyany of us in nottingham jim,im now in essex and there aint none here they like to think they are cockneys but these people aint got a clue i tell
  • Miranda Worby on The History of Beckton Gas WorksA very interesting read! My great-grandfather was a stoker at the gas works for many years, wonderful to get a little insight into it all.
  • Carole Spiller on Second World War Bombing Raid South Hallsville SchoolI went to Hallsville late sixties early seventies and I had forgotten about the green hand. I also remember a lot of people saying about the bodies buried under the
  • Patrick Kerry on History of Canning Town East LondonSo sorry about terrible spelling and punctuation. Had been working all day and I find that, at 67 things get sloppy, especially when using a phone rather than a keyboard
  • Patrick Kerry on History of Canning Town East LondonMy dad reckoned world war 2 was the best thing that ever happened to him and mum. She was from Poplar, he was from Hermit Rd, Canning Town. George and
  • Jean Hyett on History of Canning Town East LondonHi Malcolm. I was born in 98 Hayday Road, Canning Town in 1946 . I remember riding my tricycle around the block, past the bomb site that me and my
  • Tom Wayling on V1 and V2 Rocket Attacks in East LondonMy father's family lived in Ashwell Rd, Bethnal Green. The street, and others around it were wiped out in 1944/5 by either a V1 or V2. He thinks it was
  • Royden Parker on My Grandfather – Lift Engineer and Electrician.Hi Malcolm, just seen the photo of your Grandfather Frank. I was his apprentice for about two years of my apprenticeship. He taught me so much and I remember him
  • Jane on History of Tower Hamlets Cemetery ParkSo glad that I found this! My ancestors were born in Bethnal Green and Mile End Old Town (moved to Canada in 1870) so any history of the East End

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